Trading Standards Scotland is rolling out free call blocking devices to vulnerable individuals who are most at risk from scammers and rogue traders.
Scottish Government has provided £15,000 in match funding to Trading Standards Scotland to procure 280 trueCall call blocking devices which are available free of charge.
Unsolicited calls are one of the most popular methods used by scammers and unscrupulous businesses to reach people. Although we are all susceptible to being scammed, people with cognitive impairment such as dementia are most at risk. Not only does it cause financial detriment; it erodes their self-esteem and self-belief. Shutting out scam calls can give vulnerable people confidence and peace of mind and help them to continue to live independently for as long as possible.
Trading Standards Scotland is committed to ensuring that the trueCall call blocking units are allocated to the most vulnerable consumers at risk of nuisance and scam calls.
If you are considering how best to ensure your loved one can continue to live independently and stay in their own home for as long as possible, trueCall may be an option for you. Whilst other call blockers are available on the market, Trading Standards Scotland has researched and chosen trueCall because of its suitability for very vulnerable users. The device has various settings and if required can be set to the ‘Trusted Callers only’ setting. This setting only admits calls from numbers you programme into it, blocking all other calls. Once it is set up, it doesn’t require any intervention by the user. For more information about the blocker, visit trueCall’s website.
Trading Standards Scotland are also using trueCall because we can gather anonymised data from the devices. This helps us to identify prolific nuisance callers and take enforcement action against them where appropriate.
We are providing the units free of charge including one year’s free access to the control panel, which allows you or a family member to monitor calls to your device. This allows you to admit/delete numbers as required. At the end of the first year, trueCall will contact you asking whether you wish to renew your access, at which point you will have to pay. The cost is currently £25 per year.
Please note, given the current social distancing measures in place, Trading Standards services cannot install the device on your behalf. However, each unit comes with full instructions and trueCall has a helpline available where staff will be able to guide you through the process.
To help assist us with the allocation process, please complete and submit the call blocking unit request form and we will aim to get back to you within five working days of receiving your request.
An elderly gentleman who lived alone received a series of nuisance calls from scammers selling heating systems. He eventually agreed to a home visit from the company and agreed to pay for a second heating system.
He went on to receive further nuisance calls from various companies and, over a few months, paid for new windows, doors, solar panels and then for a cleaning service for the solar panels and windows. He was then contacted and advised that he should change energy supplier and was told that he would have to pay over £1,000 up front to save £150 per year. Although the companies carrying out these jobs had different names, they were all connected. Following investigation by Trading Standards, it became clear that the gentleman was being deliberately targeted due to his vulnerabilities and tendency to engage due to loneliness.
After the gentleman had spent over £70,000, his family found out and stepped in. They arranged for payments to be stopped and, after liaison with his bank, contacted Trading Standards to request a call blocker. This gave both them and the gentleman peace of mind and allowed him to continue living independently.
A lady who was a carer for her husband, who had dementia, received a series of calls purporting to be from HMRC. The caller said that she owed them money in unpaid tax and that a warrant would be issued for her arrest if she didn’t pay.
She agreed to make three payments, each between £200 and £400, but the caller kept phoning and asking for further payments. The stress and anxiety caused by these intimidating calls left her feeling terrified in her own home and she ultimately had a mental breakdown, leaving her unable to care for her husband.
After she contacted her local social work department, they contacted Trading Standards and a call blocker was installed over the weekend due to the urgency of her case. The scam calls have now stopped, which has had a positive effect on the woman’s mental health and has allowed her to regain her confidence.